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Understated Elegance

Creativity comes in a variety of forms. Painting, writing, sculpting, dance, acting. There are more ways to express yourself creatively then there fans of Glee. But the questions I always struggle with is “Who wants to see my creativity exposed all over the place?” and “What if my writing is simply a case of the Emperor’s New Slippers?”

Writing is personal. At least for me it is. I can’t help that. For some reason whenever I sit down to write, be it a short story or a blog, a screenplay or a novel outline, I find myself smeared all over the page like spilt coffee on an essay the night before it’s due to be handed over.

With the best of intentions of just making the story about the characters, I find me all over them. My fears, my dreams, my heart aches, my desires. I write to entertain yet can’t bring myself to believe that the core foundations of my characters lives can be anywhere near entertaining.

My own fears and foibles litter the pages and lives of the characters I write, to the point I find it next to impossible to share the words with anyone else. What if they find them lacking? What if they don’t like the characters? What if the realise the characters are me and decide they don’t like me anymore?

Writing is raw and the exposure is frightening. I guess it’s to be expected that the writer and the people in his life will come to populate the creative process. We draw on experiences, on nights of woe and tears, and afternoons of wine and laughter. Those who hurt me get cast as villains, and those I love cast as supporting players to the hero. Me.

In a way it’s kind of like re-writing history, if history is a fantasy world where magic is plentiful and dragons rule the sky. It’s an interesting place to find yourself. Standing in a world with “no basis in reality” to find it populated with your friends and parents dressed in armour and riding to battle the dark forces of the bastards who taunted you in school.

I find as I get older my creativity is fuelled by memory. Days and nights, laughter and fights. I find the more I write, the more the past blurs into a situation where eventually I emerge the winner. I find the fears of a bullied child cripple me every time I come to a place where I feel safe and comfortable with the words on the screen.

Recently I started watching Game of Thrones. I’ve never read the books and tried previously to enjoy the series, but it was so slow to start with I gave up. I gave it another shot last weekend, and once I got past the first 3 episodes I fell in love with the world in which it is set, the darkness that shadows each character – both good guy and bad – the multi-layered personality of the characters who fight for the Iron Throne.

I found myself wondering how much of the writers has been merged with the characters. I watched as storylines unfolded and I found myself running ahead of the show, writing the characters as I would want them to be. It was then I realised how authors can use the same concepts to come up with such different stories, and it was then I realised “my way” could be entertaining.

I realised that for all the fears I use to excuse completion of the various projects that litter my hard drive, it is my experiences alone that give me the voice to write, to express myself creatively through words in ways no one else can do. We can both use the same words, the same scenes and come out with totally different finished products because we walk the halls of our minds in different ways.

I will always write about triumph and the under dog in some form or another. I write that because it’s the way I perceive myself. The under dog triumphing against a world that taught him as a youngling that to be different was to deserve to be ridiculed. It is the very things I hate about my past that give my words a flavour and perception no one else can bring to the table.

Embracing that is a long journey. It’s one I’m only now beginning to understand. I once read an interview with Stephen King where he said something along the lines of “all his characters are crippled in some way because his greatest fear is to be crippled.” The gist of the article was he writes his fear as a way of living it without having to live it.

I write of the powerful influences of my past in a way of resolving my own inner fears. I write of a world of triumph over evil because I in my life I have worked hard to triumph the one evil voice I still do battle with. My own.

I write tongue in cheek because I live my life with a warped view of the world that finds humour everywhere, in the lightest spaces and the darkest recesses. I laugh because to laugh is to live. I weave the fear and the humour into every character I give birth to.

I expose myself through words in ways that others expose themselves through dance or art, pottery or song. It isn’t something I’m comfortable with yet, I never have been comfortable being in the spotlight. Even when the spotlight is turned on me, by me.

I guess the point to this post is sometimes I’m a bit slow. Sometimes it takes me a bit longer to access and understand the reasons why I don’t do something. It’s easy to put it down to procrastination, or laziness. It’s easy to ignore the desire and the burning need.

But there comes a moment in everyone’s life where reality and creativity merge to create a stronger more magical personality. To be able to write with the knowledge that while my life populates the fears and drives of my characters takes away a moments doubt. There is no point in hiding who I am behind the spotlight.

Judgement of a story is not a judgement of the author. It is a judgement of the structure. It is a way to improve if you lower your fears a notch or two down and allow the goodness of others to guide you.

Writing for me is the easy part. It’s letting others read it that causes the odd difficulty.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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